Enlightened Conflict

fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

========================

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

===================

 

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

==============

 

Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

=======

 

 

Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

first class ticket through life

April 6th, 2016

=== leading yourself first

 

“There are very few products which do not benefit from being given a first class ticket through life.”

 

 

David Ogilvy

 

 

====

“When one loves, one does not calculate.”

 

 

Thérèse de Lisieux

 

===

 

 

 

One of the most consistent business discussions I seem to have with marketing people is tone of messaging … or how to frame the product or service or scraps of ocean stonesbusiness in the marketplace.

 

With all the books & processes cramming differentiation down every marketer’s throat most businesses invest gobs of energy identifying either what makes them distinct or different.

 

At the end of that road they are tired … and then have to figure out how to tell everyone.

 

This is where we start calculating the ones we love.

 

The ‘one’ being the business, product and/or service. We have lovingly crafted everything about it and now we begin calculating how to communicate it.

 

The calculation simplistically drives most people to gravitate to one of two places – humor or humorless.

 

Now.

 

To be honest.

 

I am not a big ‘use humor in communications’ person. More often than not humor is either misused <someone has decided ‘breaking thru the clutter’ matters more than actual substance> or it is off-putting <crass humor to make a point> or it is simply forced.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, and have not, use humor in communications and marketing … but it tends to be ‘smart humor’ and not slapstick or silly.

 

And there is a reason for that beyond the overall humor ‘misused’ thought.

 

I believe people deserve a first class ticket in Life.

 

And, frankly, I believe most businesses offer products & services that deserve a first class ticket through Life.

 

First and foremost I believe a business should treat their own product & service, and business, with respect and dignity and … well … at least an aspect of seriousness as a reflection of the seriousness the business itself put forth in coming up with the idea.

 

Most businesses are neither flippant nor not thought out. This doesn’t mean you cannot laugh at yourself nor offer who and what you are with some character and humility … but rarely do I want to suggest I didn’t do some first class thinking in building what I hope is a first class offering.

 

In the parallel world … the one in which the people reside who will actually buy or use this product or service … well … these people want to be treated with respect, respect for them, their heads, their hearts & their wallets.

 

All of this sounds practical. All of this most likely resonates with business people … then why does it all go out the window with some slapstick wacky creative structure in communicating the message?

 

 

Look.

 

No.serious nonsense change anything

 

As a business I don’t want to take myself too seriously.

 

But I need to weigh the fact that I have a serious business offering developed thru some serious thoughtful business acumen.

 

 

The problem mostly lies in the fact that after beating the crap out of your business positioning to uncover the strong core to offer … a business fears it isn’t interesting enough or distinct enough.

 

Then they fall prey to the ‘to break thru you need to do something different’ advice.

 

I have this discussion so many times with businesses I have honed the discussion platform into two basic starting points:

 

 

  • Try and view it all with a fresh eye

 

I typically suggest that a business always try and look at the world with new eyes … view the things they have maybe looked at a zillion times … so many times that the things are just things. I suggest that because people want to see a world through new eyes.

 

Some people call this the sea of sameness. I do not. I believe there is a lot of good shit and good things out there … but we have seen them … and derivatives of them day in and day out <and this includes “breakthroughs & NEW”> that our eyes, ears and hearts view without viewing.

 

Nothing … and I mean NOTHING … is more impactful to someone than seeing something they have seen a zillion times in a new way. It taps into a sense of wonder … I wonder why I never saw that before, wonder what I was doing in the past that made me not see that and … well … I wonder if I will ever view this thing the same ever again in the future.

 

 

  • Think vivid

 

vivid element close first class jwtWhen I was at J. Walter Thompson years ago the basic premise behind crafting recognizable and relevant ideas was about “vivid”  – vivid metaphors or vivid demonstrations in communicating the product idea.

Some businesses have something that makes them uniquely demonstrable. Superiority is best communicated, and most simply communicated, through communicating performance. Sound dull? Only if you don’t truly offer superiority and the demonstration isn’t vivid.

Some businesses rely on a vivid metaphor where an actual demonstration fails to be either distinctive or effective. Great literature bursts with metaphors … for commonplace things we often take for granted.

 

Love: “my love is like a red rose.”

 

The sun: “the sun rose like thunder”

 

Night: “the dark curtain of night.”

 

 

The metaphor can make the commonplace exceptional and interesting.

 

Regardless of which vivid path a business pursues it should evoke something – surprise, synergy, sympathy, simplicity or shivers.

 

Day in and day out I stick to my guns and this point of view with regard to positioning businesses in the marketplace. Maintain the high road <because people like to get better than maybe what they expect> and think ‘vivid.’

If you pursue this kind of thinking as you frame your business, product or service … well … you actually limit your risk <that is also part of pursuing a ‘first class ticket’ philosophy>.

 

I found it interesting when I googled “first class life” and I found that First Class Life is a categorical term present in the classification of life insurance risk. It denotes low life risk.

 

Definition: First Class Life is a categorical term present in the classification of life insurance risk. It denotes low life risk.

 

Description: First class life comes under low risk category of life insurance and thus is charged normal premium charges. An individual identified as first class life is subject to normal premium rates for an insurance policy.

 

All business contains risk … it is inherent in everything you do.

 

Therefore in building your business you should be seeking to mitigate risks <so you can take the ‘smart risks’>.

 

Tone in communications shouldn’t be about risk.

But. love hate hugh

Let me be clear on this … a business should always seek to craft a message so that it is loved by some and disliked by others <that shows you have made some choices> but that message should always <always> be framed in a way that makes the people who love you feel like they just got a first class ticket through Life <and even the ones who hate you will most likely respect you in some way>.

 

You know … reading back over what I just wrote … this seems simple. If you are running a business and you have lovingly crafted some product or service you really believe in … well … why wouldn’t you buy it a first class ticket into the marketplace?

 

I call it “selling up.” I don’t want to undersell my idea, my business, my people … or my potential customers. I want them to feel like they part of something that brings Life ‘up’ … and not down. Seems like everyone would want to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gracefully letting go

March 29th, 2015

 

 
———gracefully let go card

 

 

 

“Teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.”

 

 

via lilac-veinss

 

 

=====

 

 

 

There are moments in the life of a man, and of a nation, when it is right to say:

 

 

I have done my utmost, and I can do no more, therefore I will cease my striving and seek another road.”

 

 

 

======

 

 

“People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt.

 

 

They will grab onto whatever is in reach.”

 

 

 

Claire Zorn

 

======

 

 

 

freedom feels like hold

Ok.

 

 

Letting go of shit may be one of the hardest things to do in the world.

 

 

Even more difficult?

 

 

Letting go gracefully.

 

 

These are the moments in which you have decided you have done what you have done, done what you consider enough … and you are … well … done.

 

 

These are the moments in which you actually consciously think:

 

 

How do I let go?

gracefully let go lemons

Where do I begin?

Do I let go memory by memory?

How many goodbyes will this take?

Do I leave words with everyone until I have no more words left to give?

 

 

Oh.

 

 

And if I do all this, will it even matter?

 

 

In addition.

 

Maybe I should do nothing.

=

Maybe I should just stand here and let others let me <or ‘it’> go.

 

This stuff, letting go in general, let alone gracefully … is hard. Really hard.

 

 

And while we typically suck at letting the right things go, let alone anything I imagine, we REALLY suck at letting things go gracefully.

 

 

Suffice it to say..

 

 

 

Most people don’t let go gracefully let alone let go at all.

 

 

You just get stuck.

 

You just hold on tight … and then when you do let go you just want to throw it away and ignore it as if you never held it.

 

 

And maybe you get a little confused.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

There is no handbook for “how to let things go gracefully. “

 

gracefully Yep time let go

 

It does not exist and so you must try to find ways to figure it out on your own.

 

 

Frankly … it seems almost cruel that a handbook on “letting go” doesn’t exist <let alone gracefully>. Because it may be one of the most common things we do in Life.

 

 

We don’t seem to notice the almost daily experience as we let go every single day of countless amounts of things:

 

 

Moments.

Minutes.

Objects.

People.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

We may not notice until we are faced with a situation that we want to hold on or that we are the ones being let go.

 

That must be it.

 

 

There comes a moment where we realize we are the ropes in a tug-of-war.

 

Someone holding on at each end … until one decides to let go.

 

 

Someone watches you leave.

 

 

Or maybe you end up watching someone else leave.

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

We have lots of personal experience letting shit go.

 

 

Most times things are let go little by little. And in these small but significant changes we don’t really learn the ‘gracefully’ part … just the letting go part.

 

 

In addition.

 

 

Not only do we let most things go in small insignificant increments … often you have no control.

 

 

Things get lost.

 

 

People are going to begin to let you go regardless of whether you ask them to or not.

 

 

I have said it before … but part of growing up is leaving shit – regrets, stuff, people, choices, etc. – behind.

 

 

Well.

 

 

That is the gracefully part.

 

 

Learning to let things go that you not only made the ‘let go decision’ but also the things that were ‘let go’ by someone else.

 

 

In other words … learning to let things go even when your world starts to tilt.

 

 

Simply.

 

 

Holding on is a shitload easier than letting go.

 

 

And, in fact, I am not sure there is such a thing as ‘holding on gracefully.’

 

 

You are just … well … holding on.

 

 

Sigh.

 

 

Let’s end with this thought.

 

Unfortunately … I tend to believe you encounter more things not meant for you than those things actually meant for you in Life.

 
And while we may eventually get better as we get older with regard to sifting through all these things inevitably you will end up with a lot of shit that … well … aren’t really meant for you.

 

And even more unfortunately … there really isn’t anyone to help you sift thru … no one is going to … ‘teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.’

 

 

That is something you just gotta figure out on your own.

 

gracefully Life

Me?

 

I am a work in progress.

 

 

 

I have certainly learned to let go of things … but still learning to do so gracefully.

 

 

I can only hope that I am more graceful on the important things.

new normal in marketing … demographics are dead

February 26th, 2015

new normal old normal

———

Demographics are dead.

Successful products, services and brands will transcend their initial demographics almost instantaneously.

As a result, executives who continue to attempt to navigate using demographic maps, with borders defined by age, gender, location, income will be ill prepared for the speed, scale and direction of change.”

==

Trendwatching.com

—————-

 

 

 

So.

 

 

While gobs of people talk about the effect of ‘social media’ on marketing <which is kind of crazy because it is simply another tactic and not a strategy> not many people discuss how people’s attitudes are shifting … and the effects on HOW marketing approaches the voodoo it does.

thinking attitudes change
What do I mean?

 

Well.

 

 

 

 

Not many people talk about the impact of globalization on marketing this way … but … an overall impact of a more connected global world is that marketing is a shitload less about demographics than it is about attitudes.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

That thought is going to make a shitload of people in the marketing business tear their hair out.

 

Why?

 

Because targeting via demographics is much much easier than targeting attitudinally.

 

 

In addition … the foundational attitude everyone is tapping into is … well … unlearning <wow … that sucks for marketers>.

 

 

What I mean is that as we become more globally aware we also then begin challenging conventional wisdom more often <and change what we think more easily>.

 

 

That is the new normal.

 

Yup.

 

Conventions are increasingly being overturned as we … well … encounter a new normal.

 

The new normal attitude is more often reflected in “why?” … instead of “of course.”

 

 

To a marketer this can seem disconcerting.

 

Shit.attitudes behavior humans

 

To someone looking from the outside in with regard to the world this can seem disconcerting.

 

 

But … you know … while it may seem like you may be suffering from a mild form of chronophobia <fear that time is moving so fast I’ll never be able to catch up> … the reality is that most people like the changes occurring around us … and are quickly changing their behavior to accommodate what, overall, they see as improvements.

 

 

Therefore … as a marketer <or business in general> this behavior shift is less about convincing anyone to do anything … it is more that the bulk of the people are simply seeking permission to do the changed behavior.

 

 

This should change how marketers view what they are doing and how they are encouraging change … because permission is significantly different than convincing.

 

 

It becomes more about reducing barriers and embracing less negative product impacts for a consumer.

 

==

Understanding consumers’ needs and wants remains critical.

However, it will be those that take a broad view and learn from innovations that are satisfying consumers by reducing negative issues in seemingly dissimilar or even opposing demographics that will succeed, regardless of which ‘traditional’ demographic(s) they serve.

==

 

 

In today’s world people can <and increasingly do> pick and choose what products and services they purchase and the brands they identify with, without any regard to demographic ‘conventions.’

 

 

They are sharing a product, and the product experience, regardless of age.

 

This means the only way to sell <or give them permission to buy or do> is to tap into some ‘shared attitude’ of a group you have identified of interest to your product or service.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

This will confuse a lot of marketing people because … well … shit … they are already confused.

 

Huh? … Why do I say that?

 

Well.

If you stay focused on demographics it becomes easy to become confused when looking at behavior.

 

 

It looks like consumers are constantly not behaving as they ‘should.’

 

 

That said … I come back to attitudes … and permission versus convincing.

 

 

Trendwatching called a version of the idea I am discussing – POST-DEMOGRAPHIC CONSUMERISM.

 

 

==

People – of all ages and in all markets – are constructing their own identities more freely than ever.

As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more.

==

 

 

 

Now … to be clear on demographics … in general … younger, affluent people are the most likely earliest adopters of new products and services. They are certainly more open, more experimental and have fewer commitments.

 

 

But now innovations are being rapidly adopted by, and almost instantly reshape the expectations of, any and all demographics.

 

 

Society is now too fluid, ideas now too available, the market now too efficient, the risk and cost of trying new things now too low for any and all people to ‘up their game’ with products & services. The ability to experiment and, ultimately, identify personally with a wider variety of brands and products fuels increased personalization and yet creates a larger collective attitude <whew … there is an interesting dichotomy>.

 

 

Just look at smartphones.

 

 

While we look at the disconnected/connected world as a ‘young person issue’ … smartphones has an almost 75% penetration of people aged 12 to 54.

 

Yes.

 

 

I just said almost ¾ of anyone under the age of 54.

 

bond smartphone why attitude

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

If you end up skipping the whole demographic thing and are not clear where to start … let me help you out.

 

An attitudinal marketing world actually almost begins not with the people … but the enabler.

 

 

Huh?

 

 

If I am selling an app I look to smartphones <and attitudes of smartphone buyers>.

 

 

If I am selling a book I look to amazon <and attitudes of amazon users>.

 

 

If I am selling a car I look to car lots <and attitudes of car lot shoppers>.

 

 

Attitudes get driven by who uses, and likes to use, the enabler.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This actually makes this whole attitudinal thing slightly easier because now I have a place to at least start … some existing behavior <and the attitudes attached to that behavior>.

 

 

The enabler also enhances a latent ‘purchase desire’ … for other things.

 

 

What do I mean?

 

 

The enabler enhances a desire to ‘do more like this’ or a desire wrapped around a sense of ‘shit, if I can do this this way … why can’t I do this thing this way?”

 

 

That is a powerful desire to tap into.

 

perfection looking at htings differently

And that innate desire simply comes down to ‘permission to do’ rather than ‘convince to do.’

 

 

This attitude is an odd <interesting?> aspect of democratization of purchasing.

 

 

This attitude also bleeds into a larger ‘how will I enter the world’ type attitude.

 

 

Because there is this democratization of the purchase it almost eliminates an aspect of early adopter <which has a “get ready for me world’ attitude> and instead almost forces a mass of people into more of an ‘I need to get ready for this world’ attitude.

 

 

This democratization of purchasing impacts attitude so significantly <creating this ‘new normal’> because the overall ‘heads of the people’ has changed at the same time. The ‘head change’ has been driven by a world where, increasingly, conventional <traditional> basics can no longer be taken for granted.

 

 

What i mean by that is because people perceive they are facing a seemingly never-­‐ending onslaught of challenges and issues, people tend to see today’s world as a tough, difficult place where someone needs to focus on survival long before someone can consider ‘thrive’.

 

 

 

And, once again, this is not a demographic thing … this is a pervasive attitude among all demographic groups.

 

 

This is the new normal.

 

 

And the new normal attitude leads to some rebelling against, or complete rejection, of conventional beliefs, conventional way of ‘doing things’ … and also traditional businesses. As people reluctantly adjust to today’s version of a mature reality, all the while professing they will never lose touch with how it feels to be young and relevant, the democratization of purchase feeds into an ‘I can be young & old at the same time.’

 

 

This attitude is easy, and difficult, to track because while almost all the ‘individuals’ carry this mindset around wherever they go … the actual ‘individual’ chooses when & where to apply it in Life.

 

 

“They choose when and where they will attack.

If the issue seems below their threshold of importance, they save their energy and let it go entirely.”

Neil Howe, Demographer

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This means that if the issue seems below their threshold of importance, they save their energy and let it go entirely. This thought captures an overall attitude among all people.

 

Ok.

Maybe not everyone … but it is an increasing attitude among a significantly increasing amount of people.

 

 

We could call it simply … a survival response.

 

 

Survival?

 

Well.

The world has shown people that shit happens <and some pretty fucked up shit> that you can’t plan for … but you can kind of prepare for.

 

 

 

Sort of prepare for.
Anyway.

danced on the edge

 

With this new normal attitude and the fact marketers have to focus on tapping into attitudes and not demographics … I feel the need to say that … well … edges matter when you talk about attitudinal.

 

 

No.

 

 

I am not talking doing something ‘edgy’ … I am talking about drawing some lines in the sand. Avoiding fluff and focus on the fold. Eliminate ambiguity and dial up some certainty.

 

 

Why does it matter?

Raised on a steady dose of truth <and untruths>, straight talk <and double talk>, honesty, and some heavy doses of reality, people today expect the world to be a tough place.
They’ve been taught the motivations of brands, corporations, and institutions are seldom what they seem.

 

 

This translates into the fact that if businesses that pander, condescend, or rely on lazy stereotypes … they will not connect.

 

 

Speak truth, the harsh truth, or die. Get out of the gray. Place an edge on everything you say and create some distinct feelings about whatever it is you 19 speak the truthwant to sell or say. Avoid ambiguity. Clarity & certainty are almost mandatory <and, please, do not confuse this with ‘simplicity’ … because one can provide clarity without overt simplicity>.

 

 

 

That said.

 

 

Standing out, being distinct, may matter more than success.

 

 

This is a reflection of an overall societal thing … kids are more and more raised by parents less obsessed with winning or their kids obtaining traditional status symbols of ‘success’. This results in an attitude more focused on standing out rather than being #1.

 

 

Suffice it to say … being distinct matters.

 

 

Not being better or being ‘unique’ but instead simply being clear with regard to who and what you are. Distinct differentiates in a fluffy grey world.

 

 

 

Both of those things, edges and distinctness, matter when it comes to attitudinal marketing.

 

 

I say that because while the world may feel overwhelming on occasion <mostly driven by what social media fake journalists keep telling us we should be overwhelmed> most of us are becoming quite good at judging … well … the turn on, tune in, or drop out choices.

 

Frankly … it’s a survival mechanism people have honed as a reaction to the babbling insanity that surrounds everyone and which can eat life away if permitted.

 

 

We actually have learned relatively well on how to choose wisely with regard to what to pay attention to.

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

If you are a marketer … shit … if you are a business owner … success may often not be found in focusing on some ‘demographic appeal’ to what you are selling or saying. Success may actually be found in tapping into some attitude.

 

The business world is becoming more and more ‘age democratized’ and therefore you are just as likely to piss off potential customers focusing on a demographic as you are in appealing to the demographic you are trying to attract.

new normal marc johns

 

More importantly?

 

 

You are probably leaving potential customers at the table if you use a demographic focus.

 

I can’t remember the source but I know I have read that attitudinal marketing & targeting can be 6x more effective than a demographic approach.

 

 

 

I imagine if I wanted to close this article with a factoid that’s a good one.

plain packaging and the burden of non deceitful messaging

February 23rd, 2015

So.

 

 

This is about marketing and communications and plain packaging versus branding … as well as truth and deceit.plain packaging invisible naked

 

 

 

 

“In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market.

In practice, if everyone went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed.

To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds.

There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.”

=

Edward Bernays

—-

gift responsible

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

We can vulgarize that society.

We can brutalize it.

Or we can help lift it to a higher level.”

=

Bill Bernbach

———————–

 

 

Last April the Guardian had a small editorial on plain packaging because Great Britain is thinking about having plain packaging for cigarettes.

 

Within the short thought piece it poses the question of “what if there were only plain packaging … for everything?”

 

 

 

Well.

 

giving yourself convenient

That topic is something anyone in the professional communications industry should ponder not from a true business perspective but rather a philosophical ‘what do I really do for a living’ type perspective.

 

 

Why?

 

 

One of the hot topics among young people when I speak to them is “the moral depravity of capitalism” and its flag bearer “the morally corrupt advertising.”

 

 

Stand up in from of today’s youth and make sure you bring your A game … cause you will need it.

 

 

A discussion about plain packaging for everything spans capitalism, brands & branding and … well … people themselves <how much they can actually be influenced to do something they don’t really desire doing>.

 

 

I remain steadfast in this discussion.

 

 

 

Capitalism, in and of itself, is not morally corrupt. Only people can be moral or immoral.

 

 

Advertising, in and of itself, is not morally corrupt. Only people can be moral or immoral.

 

 

But regardless of my steadfastness … plain packaging for everything sparks an interesting discussion … not just about the morality of marketing & advertising but the role, and importance, of brands in people’s lives.

 

 

I will begin with the short editorial:

 

—————-

== The Guardian ==

Unthinkable? Plain packets for everything.

Brands allow us to choose, but they also sometimes stop us choosing wisely – perhaps everything should carry a warning

Could the plain wrappers, which the government has said it will introduce for cigarettes, be usefully extended, to other potentially harmful products?

Alcopop could be divested of its deceiving glamour, fatty food could be labelled as just that, sugar could be generically dispensed.

Whisky would just be a brown liquid in a bottle without pictures of terriers or a chap striding along.

Marmalade would just be a brown substance in a jar (after all, when you buy oranges they often put them in a plain brown paper bag).

Ice cream would no longer carry names reminding you of heavy handguns or novels by Mark Twain. Except, of course, in very tiny letters at the bottom of the pack.

High heeled shoes could be stripped of their fashion names and carry a warning about muscle strain and bunions to come.

Fast cars could have their badges pruned.

The more we extend the list the sillier it becomes.

Yet we know how many designs for marijuana packets were patented in the hope that it would be legalised: the magic wand of branding could then be waved over them to bring big profits to these far-sighted entrepreneurs.

Brands allow us to choose, but they also sometimes stop us choosing wisely.

Perhaps the problem could be tackled more directly by simply attaching a label to everything saying that branding should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Naturally a label like that on an actual packet of salt could cause confusion, so that one might have to say in that case that branding could be a snare and a delusion.

————–

 

evil good hands

 

I imagine beginning the discussion you have to use the end of the editorial – … branding could be a snare and a delusion.

 

 

The mind has plenty to grapple with from such a short grouping of words.

 

Brand <and branding>.

 

Exchange Value.

 

Deceit.

 

Caveat emptor.

 

Influencing.

 

Information and disinformation.

 

 

Now.

 

This issue has been discussed for decades.

 

 

The most famous public discussion may have occurred sometime in the1950’s. Printer’s Ink <a magazine I believe> published an editorial … Toynbee Vs. Bernbach on Advertising <oddly … in this day & age where you can find almost everything online … I can’t find a copy of it … therefore I am dependent upon a sole bad hard copy I made years ago>.

 

 

 

The summary?

 

 

—–

Arnold Toynbee:

Advertising is moral mis-education.

Advertising is an instrument of moral, as well as intellectual, mis – education. Insofar as it succeeds in influencing people’s minds, it conditions them not to think for themselves and not to choose for themselves.

It is intentionally hypnotic in its effect it makes people suggestible and docile. In fact, it prepares them for submitting to a totalitarian regime.

toynbee berbach advertising

=

Bill Bernbach:

Only people are moral or immoral.

Advertising, like so many technologies available to man, is neither moral nor immoral. Is eloquence immoral because it persuades? Is music immoral because it awakens emotions? Is the gift of writing immoral because it can arouse people to action?

No.

Yet eloquence, music and writing have been used for evil purpose.

No, advertising is not moral or immoral.

Only people are.

—–

 

 

capitalism desperate

When I discuss capitalism & advertising I place both of these thoughts on screen and suggest people have to make a choice.

 

 

 

Are people sheep … or smart enough to make decisions on their own?

 

 

Are all people who do marketing & advertising immoral?

 

 

You realize that plain packaging isn’t the issue.

 

And that the topic is complex.

 

 

Suffice it to say … selling shit <marketing or manufacturing> is always about balancing sales & ethics & values.

 

The moment you lose sight of that is the moment your moral compass, or business, goes off the tracks.

 

 

And you have to pay attention to your moral compass if you are in the communications business because there is gobs of research showing that the degree of brand loyalty increases sharply from the age of ten, and peaks around the age of 30.

 

 

There is gobs of research showing that the degree of emotional involvement a person invests with a brand increases their irrationality.

 

 

 

Why the hell did I include those factoids?

 

 

Because that means if you are in the communications business <this includes packaging by the way> you have a responsibility. And that responsibility is being ethical & being truthful and not being deceitful.

 

 

Basically people know and love brands.

 

People know the names of brands, remember what they see and hear about them and form opinions of them.

 

 

And people actually do NOT like plain packaging … they like all the wrappings around the shit they buy.

 

 

And the trappings are important because brand relationships don’t form in a vacuum.

 

 

To become truly loyal to a brand, you have to create strong attitudinal foundations. The peak loyalty is a strong attitudinal allegiance to a brand.

 

Some suggest this is a ‘bond.’

 

 

 

I cannot remember who built this “brand loyalty pyramid” but , in general, it says pretty much the same thing as every ‘loyalty pyramid’ you will see when you walk thru the door of any credible communications company:

 

 

compete connect smart

• Presence: does the consumer know anything about the product or service?

• Relevance: does it cater for their needs?

• Performance: does it deliver?

• Advantage: is it better than others in some way?

• Bonding: nothing else can beat it.

 

 

All consumers, whether kids or adults, form brand relationships in this way.

 

 

On a side note … interestingly, research shows that among kids, around half of all brands change their typology every two years, highlighting an extremely rapid ‘migration’ of attitudes.

 

 

But, in general, Millward Brown research shows that brand allegiance changes very little across the generations. In two out of three categories, adults and kids are bonded to the same brands. Many brands manage to tap into needs and desires that transcend the age of the consumer, and many do this through careful product segmentation.

 

 

loyal to brand

I included a lot of this stuff because we use the word ‘brand’ often in a very simplistic way and it is a very non simplistic concept.

 

It has to do with perceptions, attitude and expectations … leading to specific behaviors.
And all this gets me back to plain packaging and, conversely, discussing ‘brand.’

 

 

Plain packaging suggests everything is equal. Toynbee would like that.

 

Everything equally good and equally bad.

 

 

Unfortunately for Toynbee … whether you believe it or not … the shit we buy varies in quality.

 

 

Could we exist, or subsist, on the lowest quality?

 

I am fairly sure we could.

 

 

But our everyday existence is made up of more than simply existing. What I mean is how dull would life be if that is all there was?

 

 

To be clear … even within the lowest income purchasers, those who have a heightened sense of survival, there remains hope for something better and the occasional indulgence of something better.

 

Non plain packaging permits a manufacturer to showcase ‘better’ or ‘different’ so we, the people, can make choices.

 

 

Ah.

 

Making choices.

 

 

 

People make choices. Non plain packaging helps them make choices.

 

 

Professional communicators also make choices.

 

 

 

This leads me to something called … “Do this or die.”

 

 

Do this or Die is a manifesto written by Bill Bernbach <one of the founders of the advertising agency Doyle, Dane & Bernbach – DDB> and it is written to those who CREATE advertising and messaging … the professional communicators in the world.

 

 

It is a directive ‘the creators of messaging’ to create inspiring truthful meaningful messaging.

 

 

He suggests in his manifesto to the ‘creators’, those who should bear the burden of ‘non deceitful messaging,’ that the people are not a nation, or world, of stupid people.

 

People are smart.

Do-this-or-die-Bill-Bernbach1

 

And maybe ‘the people’ can be tricked once … but very very rarely twice.

 

 

“DO THIS OR DIE” is a warning, a promise, a call-out to the lazier advertising and marketing and communications professionals.

The ones who accept and produce mediocrity.

The ones who don’t understand the power of truth and the ones who compromise ‘truth’ in the interest of sale or ‘false differentiation.’

 

 

 

Do this or Die.

 

What we professionals communicate must be truth:

 

 

==

“… the messages we put on those pages and on those television screens must be the truth. For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.

Now.

The other side of the coin.

Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about. Sadly, so many products aren’t. So many products don’t do anything better. Or anything different. So many don’t work quite right.

Or don’t last.

Or simply don’t matter.

If we also play this trick, we also die.”

==

 

 

Discussing plain packaging is discussing the symptom of a larger problem.

 

 

It becomes not a discussion of marketing or communications or even capitalism … it becomes a discussion about people and doing what is right versus what is wrong and choices.

 

 

I love this discussion with young people.

 

 

It is a hard discussion in which they may approach it with some naiveté … they also approach it with truth in hand.

 

 

Truth that while there are moral and immoral people in the world … that even moral people will slide down the slippery slope of mediocre ethical behavior under the guise of either <a> not knowledgeable enough to do anything better, or <b> everyone else is doing it.

 

 

 

In the end.

 

 

 

Let me say I despise what Arnold Toynbee suggests with regard to people.

 

 

I refuse to believe people aren’t smart enough to make knowledgeable decisions.

 

 

I refuse to believe people can be influenced to such an extent they desire things they shouldn’t desire.

 

 

 

I refuse to believe people can be manipulated to do wrong things <but certainly can be inspired to take positive actions>.

 

 

 

 

I do believe communications can influence attitudes.

 

I do believe communications, done well, can affect behavior.

 

 

But I don’t believe communications can make someone do something they don’t want to do … nor convince them in any consistent way to do wrong things.

 

 

 

Just as you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink … communications can lead someone somewhere <immorally or morally> but inevitably a person makes the moral or immoral choice.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

Here is something I am emphatic with when talking with young people <and as often as I can with older people>.

 

 

 

I do believe professional communicators have a higher responsibility than other folks.

do things right don nothing

 

 

I do believe … all of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

 

 

We can vulgarize that society.

 

We can brutalize it.

 

 

Or we can help lift it to a higher level.

 

 

 

Plain packaging?

 

 

Why am I against it?

 

 

Well.

 

 

I would lose an opportunity to help lift society to a higher level.

 

That’s what I tell people.

 

 

And that is what I believe.

 

===

shirking responsibility
===

This old post is not about communicators … but business responsibility to shaping society.

===

responsibility in business (or … shapers of society)

http://brucemctague.com/responsibility-in-business-or-shapers-of-society

the gap between event and truth (or the big squeeze)

August 30th, 2014

dream seeking sky

 

—-

“If a man shall begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.”

=

Francis Bacon

—-

“I don’t rule out anything.”

——-

 

Yikes.

 

 

Yikes is all I can say when thinking about the gap between when an event happens … and the inevitable truth comes out.

 

In fact … I would suggest that in between is simply the ‘big squeeze’ where you & I <and, unfortunately,  truth gets squeezed>.

 

big_squeeze

 

In today’s news and social technology … world events, facts, speculation and truth become so blurred it is not only difficult to know what is going on … it is difficult to know what did go on.

 

 

The trouble is that facts get dribbled out like scarce drops of water and each get analyzed as if they were each an ocean of facts <when it is one drop of information and a gazillion drops of speculation>.

 

 

A story unfolds slowly … never fast enough for anyone … and if you don’t pay attention ‘your’ story may be three or four editions behind <yet … that is what you believe>.

 

 

On a side note … unfortunately this also seem to happen far too often in the business world.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

 

So … what can we believe?

 

 

What is “true” or “valid” or “reliable” information?

 

 

 

Oops.

 

 

 

 

These words are all slightly different. And, unfortunately, those differences create entirely different worlds of meaning.

 

 

In fact … those words inevitably intrude nevetween the event and truth. They intrude between reality and perceptions and, ultimately, understanding.

 

 

All the while the confusion upsets the majority.

 

—–

“There is much contradictory news, I really don’t know what to believe.”

—–

 

 

Excessive alarm, fueled by misleading news reports, leads to knee-jerk responses that are not necessarily for the best.

 

 

It is another fact that theories grow without facts.

 

 

And then scraps of information beget even more theories.

 

 

And initial theories are revised with new information.

 

And in the end theories are actually created by selective use of some scraps of information.

 

The main ingredient for rumor generation and transmission is uncertainty.
It is within the lack f full information … some of which is called a ‘mystery’ or ‘crisis’ which permits everyone to play detective and theorist for a day.

 

 

So much uncertainty also creates opportunities for people with existing agendas to dwell on their favorite themes <take a moment and think about this in business … that ambitious fool in the cubicle across the floor seeking an opportunity to move ahead in the wretched in between of the event and final truth … sigh>.

 

 

 

All that said … as events happen and information unfolds I realized that a guy named Alain Badiou has provided some good thoughts about what happens between the event and truth.time what matters

 

 

 

——-

“…. truth enters into the world for Badiou not as a state but as a process, or more specifically as four processes: love, politics, art and science.

He claims that truth itself is almost impossible to recognise as truth, but it can become briefly discernable for a passing moment in what he calls an event.

The event is a rupture in the current circumstances caused by an awareness of what is missing from those circumstances. The event is a glimpse of the void inherent to any given state.

Having experienced such an event, a subject is created who has a chance to affect the world by remaining faithful to the event of truth they have encountered.

=

Alain Badiou

——

 

 

It is maddening … but he is correct.

 

 

 

An event is being defined by love <people who are hurt or benefit from>, politics <those with an agenda>, art <I will loosely use this as journalism … but in today’s social world … let’s call it ambient journalism or amateur storytelling> and science <the endless array of experts who cite research and science>.

 

 

 

We are barraged from all sides by these four things.

 

 

I will call this the big squeeze.

 

 

We get squeezed as truth is validated by the traditional aspects in which truth is arrived at:

 

 

–        Anecdotes: Powerful compelling narrative examples of phenomena from world of experience that might embody a principle. Ideas correspond to real world events.period end-of-story_design

–        Statistics: Could that observation of a phenomenon be in error? Statistics reveals patterns and tests validity of generalizations –For example, if a finding was made by chance.

–        Explanatory power: Utility of an idea in helping integrate a larger array of ideas in a coherent way.

choice sometimes one

 

Uhm.

 

 

 

Trouble.

 

 

 

Those three things imply ‘time.’

 

As in a reasonable amount of time to have these things unfold.

 

 

 

Its trouble because while media endlessly states with sincerity … “of course it is premature to draw conclusions” they immediately veer into theory, hypothesis and speculation.

 

 

 

 

Second guessing decisions and actions as well as guessing <or speculating> on conclusions all the while establishing the outer limits of what is only frustrated guesswork but is truly the outer limits of the boundaries squeezing us.

 

 

 

——

“In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions.

But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right.

That’s why we have investigations.

That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.

That’s why we have courts.

And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.”

=

President Barak Obama

——-

 

 

 

Most of us want to know when there is an event … but we want to know truth.

 

 

And, yet, the world around us is squeezing us on all 4 sides with images and words.

 

 

 

The ‘gap’ between the event and truth actually becomes the crisis … not the event itself <and if any word is being overused these days it is certainly ‘crisis’>.

 

 

 

Truth is never <or let’s say … very very rarely> a static state.

 

 

If it were than an event would have a predetermined truth.

 

 

 

Badiou sees knowledge as ultimately fragile and subject to change.

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

As an event occurs truth is created.

 

 

 

Which means we should look to science as to how we should assess information in the gap … as we are getting squeezed:

 

 

—-

–         VALIDITY of data refers to its accuracy and specificity, as well as its applicability to the question being asked.

=

–        RELIABILITY refers to data’s precision, consistency, and appropriate resolution

—-

 

As we transfer information we learn about an event into our pea-like brains and start thinking about it … we are right to question and test our perceptions — to establish the validity and reliability of our experiences and the beliefs they engender.

gg preventative unlocking identity

 

 

We are all concerned about what is true and what is not — with what is real.

 

Memory and imagination are strong sources of imagery.

 

 

 

But our struggle is to discern our internal instincts <thoughts we naturally gravitate to> from the external opinions mixed with true knowledge or we are hopelessly confused.

 

 

Oh.

 

 

Scientists are awesome at actually discerning.

 

As they explore the boundaries of what is ‘known’ they are especially wary.

 

They are often confronted with information for which there is little or no precedent to guide their judgment about the meaning of their data.

 

Oh.

 

Politicians and journalists suck at this.

 

 

Politicians and journalists have a common interest in crises. When there’s a crisis, people buy newspapers and turn on the news to learn how politicians and leaders will fix the crisis.

 

 

 

In addition … crises give politicians <and people with some agenda … in general> more power.

 

 

And maybe that is where the big squeeze, the gap between the event and the truth, really gets us.

 

 

 

We seem to be a society fond of creating a sense of crisis all the time … and only some of the time, now and then, the truth comes out.

 

 

 

Many philosophers have expounded on the difference between knowledge and truth but not many have invested a lot of energy <and thinking> of how a sense of crisis affects how we absorb knowledge and arrive at truth.

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

 

Not everything is a crisis.

 

 

It can be a tragic event … it could be a tragedy of errors … it could simply be an unfortunate confluence of unintended consequences … but most events are not crises.

 

 

 

This is true in every day Life as well as in business.

 

 

 

But regardless of an events ‘label’ I can almost guarantee we will be squeezed by a combination of what I stated earlier … Badiou suggests Truth is not a state but a process, or more specifically as four processes: love, politics, art and science.

 

 

truth quest

When an event happens we will be squeezed in the gap between the event and truth by the 4 things I listed above.

 

 

How much you care.

 

How much society cares <politics>.

 

How much art cares <because they create the imagery>.

 

How much science cares <because they create the facts>.

 

 

 

 

 

We just need to try and not be suffocated by all that caring until the truth is aired.

 

 

responsibility in business (or … shapers of society)

August 7th, 2014

responsibility does not matter but it does

——

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

We can vulgarize that society.

We can brutalize it.

Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

=

Bill Bernbach

—–

Well.

 

 

Bill Bernbach is a well-known and respected name in the advertising business.

 

He should be a more well-known name with respect to business management and ethics.

 

 

I say this after I found my copy of The Bernbach Book <one of less than maybe 10000 ever printed> … and I thought about responsibility in business.

 

 

Uhm.

 

Yes.

 

 

In business we have a responsibility. A responsibility to do and say the right thing.

 

Yes.

 

All businesses … but in particular in the advertising and marketing business we have an almost overwhelming responsibility <which far too many people are not willing to accept this burden>.

 

 

But all businesses have this responsibility.

Because they can shape society.

 

As Bernbach suggests … whether we like it or not … whether we want to do it or not … tough shit … we are shapers of society.

 

 

And we have some relatively simple choices in front of us:

We can vulgarize that society.

We can brutalize it.

Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.

 

But we need to make that choice.

 

Because we sometimes forget to do so.

 

——

“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it.

We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.”

——–

“A dull truth will not be looked at.

lies real eyes real liesAn exciting lie will.

That is what good, sincere people must understand.

They must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead.”

=

Bill Bernbach

——-

 

Those are some good strong thoughts and good strong words.

 

 

Words to think about.

 

Words for every business person to think about.

 

 

Look.

 

 

Truth is truth.

 

Lies are lies.

 

Responsibility is responsibility.

 

freedom and responsibility

And if you do not accept your responsibility to tell the truth as excitingly and convincingly as you possibly can … lies will win.

 

 

And if lies win … they shape society.

 

 

 

If you choose to vulgarize society or brutalize it … or even ignore it <all under the guise of ‘understanding what the consumer wants’> … society will lose.

 

I honestly do not despair when I look at business in today’s world … or even marketing & advertising behavior.

 

 

I get aggravated.

 

 

No.

 

I get angry.

 

I get angry that we are not accepting the responsibility to shape society.

 

I get angry that we are not strong enough to accept the burden.

 

I get angry that many do not even presume the responsibility is within their purview.

 

I get angry that we often think just selling stuff is enough <and that meets our business responsibility>.

 

things big or little
Business, whether you like it or not, shapes society.

 

Yes.

 

What we do matters.

 

 

Selling stuff doesn’t matter.

 

Well … it only matters as a means to an end.

 

 

What really matters is the shaping of attitudes <which ultimately shapes behavior>.

 

 

Far too often by simply focusing on ‘selling stuff’ the byproduct of our ignoring the larger responsibility is that we brutalizing society in some form or fashion.

 

 

Am I suggesting that selling stuff or being profitable isn’t important?

Of course not.

 

 

All I am suggesting is that HOW you sell stuff and be profitable matters.

 

And that you have a responsibility in HOW you do what you do.

 

Because HOW you do things impacts society.

 

It shapes society.

 

It can vulgarize or brutalize … or invigorate … or instill good.

 

 

HOW you do things has a power way beyond simply you or what you do in that moment.

 

 

HOW you do things is a pebble dropping into a pond.
Responsibility assumes you are neither impotent nor harmless.

 

——-

“Advertising is far from impotent or harmless; it is not a mere mirror image. Its power is real, and on the brink of a great increase. Not the power to brainwash overnight, but the power to create subtle and real change.
The power to prevail.”

Eric Clark, The Want Makers: Inside the World of Advertising, 1988

——

 

Your responsibility in business is sometimes subtle … but always real.

 

 

I worry that business people everywhere, but in particular advertising & marketing, have become so focused on getting shit done and ‘attaining the bottom line’ that they have forgotten the responsibility.

 

This isn’t about causes.

 

This isn’t about social responsibility <or the welfare of people>.

 

This is about understanding that what you do impacts people.

 

And this is about understanding that responsibility is a burden. I say that because I always have at my fingertips something written in 1928 called “Propoganda” written by Edward Bernays:

 

——

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.

Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

=

Propaganda <Edward Bernays>

 

—–

 

I still cringe every time I read this.

 

 

But I keep this nearby to remind myself that business and communications can be used for good and for bad.

believed as many as six different things

Lies, as well as truth, can shape society.

 

 

That is why accepting that you, as a business person, is a shaper of society is a burden … and a responsibility.

 

 

Accept the responsibility.

Enlightened Conflict